From the Archives

A look back

L to R: Betty Woodman with potted flowers, Antella, Italy, c. 1990s / Betty in her garden in Boulder, Colorado, c. 1960s / Betty putting fresh flowers in a group of her “Vase and Stand” works, 1984. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Betty Woodman with potted flowers, Antella, Italy, c. 1990s. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Happy birthday to Betty Woodman
Happy birthday to Betty Woodman—a garden enthusiast and artist who ingeniously experimented with her lifelong muse, the vase, and its multitude of sculptural possibilities.
L to R: George Woodman with his painting, "Untitled," c. 1970. / George Woodman with his installation "Path Games," 2004, Renaissance Center Station, Detroit, MI. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
George Woodman with his painting, "Untitled," c. 1970. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Happy birthday to George Woodman
Happy birthday to George Woodman—lover of color, pattern, and setting the stage—who was born on this day in 1932 in Concord, New Hampshire.
Customs declaration form penned by George Woodman. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Customs declaration form penned by George Woodman. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Across oceans and borders, a customs declaration became a promise: FROM THE ARCHIVES...
Around 1952, a young George Woodman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, penned his devotion on a USPS customs form: “Little box with littler box inside” and “1 engagement ring of Navajo silver with turquoises.” The precious 4-ounce package was destined for the hands of Elizabeth Abrahams (later to be known as Betty Woodman) across the ocean in Fiesole, Italy, where she had been living and working for the past year.
L to R: Images 1-4: Betty Woodman’s brushes / Detail of "Roman Girls," 2008, 35 x 70 x 11 in. Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, paint / Detail of "History of the Amphora," 2011, 6 ft. x 8 ft. x 1 in. Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, acrylic paint / Detail of “Country House,” 2005, 66 x 32 x 9 1/2 in. Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer / Woodman’s glazes / Detail of "Spring Wall Relief," 2009, 60 x 48 x 1 in. Glazed earthenware / Detail of "His and Hers Vases: Ferris Wheel," 2006, 28.5 x 73 x 14.5 in. Glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, and paint / All works by Betty Woodman. © Woodman Family Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Betty Woodman’s brushes. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Betty Woodman's glazes, paints, and brushes: FROM THE ARCHIVES...
Betty Woodman’s numerous glazes, paints, and the varied configurations of brushes—sometimes mixed or assembled by the artist herself to achieve desired color swatches, brushy marks, and parallel stripes—reflect her continuously innovative work with ceramic forms.
L to R: Betty Woodman, Francesca Woodman and Nancy Graves in Italy, 1966 / Charlie Woodman and Richard Serra in Italy, 1966 / Betty Woodman with Nancy Graves, Richard Serra and unknown friend in Italy, 1965. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Betty Woodman, Francesca Woodman and Nancy Graves in Italy, 1966. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
The Woodmans, Nancy Graves and Richard Serra in Italy: FROM THE ARCHIVES...
Over the course of a year from 1965-66, the Woodman family lived and worked in Italy, just outside of Florence. During that time, Betty and George became close friends with the artists and then-couple Nancy Graves and Richard Serra, who, like Betty, was there for the year on a Fulbright-Hays scholarship. They spent many hours together around the table, sharing meals, funny hats and conversations about art.
L to R: George Woodman, c. 1963 from slide preserver with slides most likely from his solo exhibition at Henderson Gallery, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1963. The installation views of such an early show in George's career are so exciting to see, especially since there are far fewer photos of these earlier shows / Photo of George’s New York studio with “Lattice Lady with Convolvulus,” 1986 visible in the background. I love getting glimpses of the artist's studios and how the set up of them reflects the artist himself / George's Palazzo Pitti show in 1987 where he can be seen taking the photo in a mirror. I don't actually get to see images of George, so I liked that he set up this shot so that you could see him actually taking the photo / Overview of a small portion of slide cases in George's collection. Not the prettiest picture, but it's interesting to see the number of slide cases in the collection and George's handwriting on each of them / Slide preserver with slides from a trip to Spain in 1965 featuring photos of tiles, nature, and people. I like how even on a trip, George is still thinking about his art and taking photos of things that can inspire his own work / Slide of George Woodman. “Untitled #VIII,” c. 1980s. Monotype. 30 x 22 in. I thought it was interesting to see the process and sketch of an artwork and how it is different from the final product / Slide preserver “Pictures of house 1965” featuring the interior and exterior of the family’s house in Boulder, Colorado. It's a view into the personal life and residence of George, and one of the few times in the slides where it seems that none of the photos are related to any artworks or research / Slide of George Woodman. “Untitled,” 1966. A medium format slide of one of George's earlier paintings that I really enjoyed / Slide preserver with slides from a trip to Morocco featuring photos of tiles, pottery, and the landscape. George is still thinking about his art and took photos of things that would inspire his own work. All materials George Woodman Collection, Woodman Family Foundation Archives, New York.
George Woodman, c. 1963 from slide preserver with slides most likely from his solo exhibition at Henderson Gallery, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1963. George Woodman Collection, Woodman Family Foundation Archives, New York.
A glimpse into George Woodman's slide collection: FROM THE ARCHIVES...
Our archival intern Erin Moss, who is in her second year at the Pratt School of Information earning her MLIS, has been processing George Woodman's extensive slide collection this semester. The slide collection consists of thousands of 35mm or medium format slides from the 1950s through the early 2000s documenting both George's work and personal life. Erin has been struck by the experience of discovering an artist through their own archival materials.
L to R: All artworks by George Woodman. Pair: “Repose (The Sleeper),” 2003. 24 x 30 in / Ephemera, c. 1950s-2010s, George Woodman Collection, Woodman Family Foundation Archives, New York / “Repose (The Sleeper),” 2003. 24 x 30 in / Images 3-4, 8: Ephemera, c. 1980s-2010s, George Woodman Collection, Woodman Family Foundation Archives, New York / “Saskia in a Still Life,” 2003. 30 x 22 in / “Jessica and Airplane,” 2002. 30 x 40 in / “Still Life with Rachel,” 1997. 20 x 16 in. All artworks gelatin silver prints.
Pair: George Woodman. “Repose (The Sleeper),” 2003. 24 x 30 in. Gelatin silver print / Ephemera, c. 1950s-2010s, George Woodman Collection, Woodman Family Foundation Archives, New York.
Ephemera used in George Woodman's photographs: FROM THE ARCHIVES...
"…[T]hings have a life, greater or smaller, in the eye and the mind. This life unfolds, no limits can be set upon it, and the way it happens may be similar or very dissimilar from one person to another,” George Woodman wrote of objects generally, when considering those housed in museum collections, but these observations illuminate his own approach to still life and photography. The Woodman Family Foundation Archives include an eclectic array of found objects, toys and fabrics used by Woodman in his photographs.
L to R: Detail of Betty Woodman / Betty Woodman, Uxmal, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / Betty Woodman and friend, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / Pyramid of the Magician, Uxmal, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / George Woodman, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / Betty Woodman, Hotel Real Toledo by Kavia, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / George Woodman, Hotel Real Toledo by Kavia, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s / George Woodman, Hotel Real Toledo by Kavia, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Detail of Betty Woodman, Uxmal, Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Yucatán, Mexico, c. 1980s: SUMMER TRAVELS WITH THE WOODMAN FAMILY
The Woodmans’ travels also took them beyond the historical and cultural capitals of Europe. For Betty and George, this included trips to India, China, Japan, Korea, and more than one visit to Mexico—a country where they spent three months on their honeymoon in the summer of 1953. Here they are in the 1980s exploring the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal, home to the Pyramid of the Magician, as well as some of Yucatan’s more recent architectural gems.
L to R: Charles Woodman, George Woodman, and Betty Woodman, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy, c. 1966 / George Woodman, Florence, Italy, 1966 / Francesca Woodman and Charles Woodman, Fiesole, Italy, c. 1966 / Charles Woodman and Francesca Woodman, Pompeii, Metropolitan City of Naples, Campania, Italy, 1966 / Charles Woodman and Francesca Woodman, Alhambra, Granada, Spain, c. 1966 / Tile detail Alhambra, Granada, Spain / Detail of George Woodman, ceramic tile installation Delavan-Canisius College Station, NFTA-Metro, Buffalo, NY, 1984 / George Woodman. “A Gentle Tessellation,” 1966-68. 43 1/4 x 43 1/34 in. Acrylic paint on canvas / George Woodman with tile mural commissioned by General Motors and the Detroit Transportation Corporation. Detail of the work in progress on the floor of George's studio, Antella, Italy, 2003. All images Woodman Family Foundation Archives unless otherwise noted. All artworks © Woodman Family Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
Charles Woodman, George Woodman, and Betty Woodman, Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy, c. 1966. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Family trips to Florence, Fiesole, and Pompeii in Italy, and Granada, Spain. c. 1966: SUMMER TRAVELS WITH THE WOODMAN FAMILY
The Woodmans spent another year together just outside of Florence from 1965-66. Betty had a Fulbright-Hays fellowship and George a faculty fellowship from the University of Colorado, while Charlie and Francesca attended the local public school. Of course they did not miss the opportunity to take breaks for traveling and exploring. Here they are wandering through Florence, nearby Fiesole, Pompeii and onward to Granada, Spain where they visited the Alhambra—one of the best-preserved palaces of Islamic architecture, with walls and floors covered in geometric mosaic tiles.
L to R: Francesca Woodman, 1971 / Pair: Betty Woodman, 1971 / George Woodman, 1971 / Francesca Woodman and friend, 1971 / Betty Woodman and friend, 1966 / Francesca Woodman and Charles Woodman, 1966 / George Woodman, 1966 / View of Acropolis of Athens from boat, Athens, Greece, 1966 / Betty Woodman, Greece, 1971 / Francesca Woodman, Greece, 1971. All images Acropolis of Athens, Athens, Greece unless otherwise noted. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Francesca Woodman, Acropolis of Athens, Athens, Greece, 1971. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Acropolis of Athens, Athens, Greece, 1971 and 1966: SUMMER TRAVELS WITH THE WOODMAN FAMILY
The Woodman family made at least two trips to Greece together—or more as Francesca later described when discussing her monumental diazotype construction of a temple: "It’s funny how while I was living in Italy the culture there didn’t affect me that much and now I have all this fascination with the architecture etc, Francesca who as a child visited the Acropolis 3 times and always yawned.” The impact and influence of classical ruins, the architecture as well as the female form, can also be seen in both Betty’s and George’s work over many decades.
L to R: Pair: Francesca Woodman, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960 / Charles Woodman, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960 / Detail of Betty Woodman and Francesca Woodman / Betty Woodman and Francesca Woodman, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960 / Charles Woodman, Fontaine des Quatre-Parties-du-Monde, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960 / Francesca Woodman and Charles Woodman, Paris, France, 1960 / Musée du Louvre, Paris, France, 1960 / Paris, France, 1960 / Betty Woodman and Charles Woodman, Paris, France, 1960. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Pair: Francesca Woodman, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960 / Charles Woodman, Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris, France, 1960. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Paris, France, 1960: SUMMER TRAVELS WITH THE WOODMAN FAMILY
The Woodman family spent the year of 1959-1960 on the first of their many trips to Italy together, living near Florence. Betty and George both set up studios there and got to work. They also used their Italian home-base to see the sites around Europe, which meant that Francesca and Charlie began traveling with their parents from a young age. Here they are on a family trip to Paris in 1960, having a fun-filled day in Jardin du Luxembourg, enjoying sweet treats, and visiting museums like the Louvre.
L to R: 1-2: Betty Woodman with Francesca Woodman and Charles Woodman, passport, 1959 / 3-4: George Woodman, passport, 1959 / 5-6: Betty Woodman with Charles Woodman and Francesca Woodman, passport, 1965 / 7-8: George Woodman, passport, 1965 / 9-10: Betty Woodman with Francesca Woodman, passport, 1970. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
Betty Woodman with Francesca Woodman and Charles Woodman, passport, 1959. Woodman Family Foundation Archives.
The Woodmans' passports, 1959, 1965, and 1970: SUMMER TRAVELS WITH THE WOODMAN FAMILY
As everyone heads out on vacation this August, we’re taking a look back at the Woodman family’s travels throughout the years with images from our archives…Throwback to a time when kids had to be on their moms passport! The Woodman family loved to travel and visited Naples, Milan, Florence, Paris, Quebec, London, Granada, New York City, Croatia (then a part of Yugoslavia), Istanbul, and Copenhagen between 1959 to 1974.